The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has a population of about 36 million. Islam is the main religion and Dari and Pashto are the official languages of Afghanistan. Half the population speaks Pashto and other languages include Uzbek, Turkmen, Balochi, Pashayi, and Nuristani. But many Afghans are bilingual.
Afghanistan shares borders with Iran to the west, Pakistan to the south and east, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan to the north and China to the northeast.
Afghanistan’s gross domestic product crossed $20 billion in 2017 with an economic growth rate of 2.6%, a meaningful and steady increase from 2.4% in 2016 and 1.3% in 2015.
Iran-Afghanistan bilateral trade reached an estimated $3 billion last year, but the two countries want to boost the volume to $20-25 billion over the next decade.
With an average age of 18, Afghanistan’s young population is in a prime position to embrace and expand electronic services and infrastructure.
At the start of the new century, Afghanistan had poor and unevenly scattered means of communications. But the new Afghanistan is rapidly developing its information and communication technologies in a mission to provide life-changing services for all.
With $2.3 billion of investment in ICT infrastructure, the number of mobile phone users in Afghanistan has reached 23 million from zero just 16 years ago, with internet users estimated at 9.7 million (27% of population), according to official reports.
Enhanced and affordable access to internet for all citizens is a stated mission of the Afghan government. Afghanistan’s fiber-optic network, stretching 4,500 kilometers, covers 25 of its 34 provinces and its network’s expansion is to be completed in two years.
The government has an open mind and a progressive approach toward ICT policies and is currently working on a comprehensive Open Data policy.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has plans to develop e-government infrastructure and National Internet Exchange of Afghanistan (NIXA) project, expand nationwide fiber-optic network and mobile services and modernize postal operations.